The Kingdom of Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland and located within South Africa, is a unique a special travel destination. In addition to a variety of cultural experiences, the country has incredibly beautiful nature which is definitely highlight of a visit here. One of the most awe-inspiring locations we discovered was the verdant mountains of the northwest of the country where you can find the Phophonyane Falls Ecolodge, a sublime retreat set within a private nature reserve crisscrossed with hiking trails (also open to non-guests). In addition to its gorgeous setting and wonderful staff, the hotel has the most original accommodation from well-fitted safari tent to uber romantic beehive huts. Travel to this enchanting destination with us below.
A Splendid Natural Setting
Owned by a Canadian-Swazi couple, the eco-lodge occupies a 600-hectare private reserve which has been tended with love and care since the 1980s. This involved not only the construction of the lodge buildings, but also the planting of the surrounding tropical gardens. Perched on a hilltop, the lodge has breathtaking views over the majestic Gobolondlo Mountain Range and the Ntfonjeni Valley. On the property is the legendary Phophonyane waterfalls, spiritually significant falls that cascade over several kilometres of exposed ancient gneiss, considered the world’s oldest rock (formed over 3.6 billion years ago). Several of the rooms overlook the falls and their gentle thunder can be heard throughout, adding to the reserve’s serenity.
Hiking around Phophonyane Falls
If you are driving through the area, you can also stop in the eco-lodge to do day hiking (at a small fee). There are short strolls, longer hikes and more challenging treks. Well marked, you can follow the trails thanks to a map available at reception. These meander through the reserve, passing gurgling brooks, water pools, look-outs, the Phophonyane River and of course, the famous waterfalls. Further through the dense forest you can even reach some cliffs and a gorge, all of this to the sound of the chirping birds and cascading falls.
Fantastic Restaurant & Common Areas
For hungry hikers and overnight guests, the attractive Driftwood restaurant has a diverse à la carte lunch and dinner menu. It has a spacious dining room as well as outdoor seating with the view of the pool and valley. There are several cozy lounge areas instead of the restaurant for apéritif, teatime or socializing, as well as a lovely library. Guests had access to a large, curved pool, beyond which is a beautiful sitting area for relaxing and taking in the dreamy vista. There are also other more discreet sitting areas facing the mountains and the peaceful forest.
Highly Unique Accommodation
One of the commendable features of the lodge is that it has accommodation to suit all needs and budgets. There is a total of 11 units, all well equipped, surrounded by greenery and extremely well spaced out, providing privacy and tranquillity. There are six spacious safari tents, each with its own charms from private balconies overlooking the river to an en-suite bathroom with a luxurious soaking tub. There are three self-catering cottages, one one-bedroom and two double-storey thatched cottages, which sleep a maximum of five. Lastly, my personal favorite and where we got to stay, there are two beehives huts made of traditional Swazi building techniques. These are stylishly decorated with woven rugs and ceramics and have en-suite bathrooms and a private sitting area with exceptional views over the valley. Well, I say private… however, you might be joined at some time by a passing family of vervet monkeys. These surprises add to the unique and magical ambiance of the lodge.
The Phophonyane Falls Ecolodge was one of my favorite places to stay in Southern Africa, it has a uniqueness hard to find elsewhere. I highly recommend staying there and suggest at least two nights to take in its sublimely relaxing ambiance. Learn more about this special eco-lodge on its website here.
I was a guest of the Phophonyane Falls Ecolodge, however, all of the ideas expressed above are entirely my own.